According to NSW Health, Influenza, or flu, was at a record low for the 2018 winter, which makes the unusual high of 2,244 confirmed cases in February this year all the more daunting.
Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages causing fever and severe aching and can often result in an epidemic. While the symptoms – fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches and fatigue – are typical of numerous viruses, it’s best to seek the advice of a GP for diagnosis and treatment options.
To help combat the early onset of the influenza season, the Government are releasing publicly funded vaccines for patients considered high risk, which will be available from mid-April, right across Australia. Patients that are considered high-risk include children aged six months to five years as well as adults over 65 years of age.
It is important to note that flu symptoms start to develop one to four days after infection with the virus, so getting your yearly vaccination as early as possible is recommended. The vaccine is widely available from GPs and pharmacies, and some workplaces run annual flu clinics where they offer free vaccinations to staff.
How is flu spread?
The flu virus is spread through air particles, when you inhale droplets of the virus that someone has exhaled. It is the type of virus that spread quickly especially when large groups of people are in close, constant contact with each other. The environment it which it thrives include day care facilities, classrooms and nursing homes.
It is also possible to ‘catch’ the virus from sharing drinks or food utensils with an infected person as well as touching skin that may have been contaminated by excretions.
How to avoid the spread?
Newcastle and Hunter Community Health advocate frequent and thorough handwashing as a key way to limit the spread of influenza.
Covering your mouth when coughing with your elbow or a tissue is also advised and as a general rule avoid sharing glasses, straws and food utensils with anyone else.
What is the best treatment?
Unfortunately, flu treatment is not a one size fits all, but there are many ways you can ease symptoms.
Over-the-counter cold and flu medication can offer some relief though they do not cure the flu, they may help you feel more comfortable. In some instances, there is a requirement for prescribed medication, however we advise seeking medical advice related to your case and symptoms.
We strongly urge anyone displaying flu like symptoms to stay away from aged care facilities due to the high risk of infection.
To find out more, please get in touch with our friendly team.